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Regency Portraits Catalogue

Frances d'Arblay ('Fanny Burney') (1752-1840), Diarist and novelist; daughter of Charles Burney

The only authentic portraits of Fanny Burney are the two oils by her cousin Edward Francis Burney, at Parham Park and NPG 2634. The remainder, listed below and frequently reproduced as genuine portraits of her, are dubious if not downright spurious.

Drawing attributed to Edward Burney in the Brooklyn Museum, New York, whole-length seated reading on a garden bench as a young girl in the classical dress of the 1790s, i.e. when Madame D'Arblay was in her forties (NPG Diary, IV, ii, 365 and Hemlow, Journals, II, frontispiece).

Silhouette by A. Charles reproduced in Francis Wellesley, One Hundred Silhouette Portraits, 1912 is called Fanny Burney for no apparent reason other than the mention in her Diary of an advertisement: 'Mr Charles of the Strand, to the astonishment and satisfaction of several thousand people has, and continues to draw the Line of the Human Face in 3 minutes and that to resemble Nature in a curious correct and unimaginable manner ... finishing in one hour by the watch' (Sue McKechnie, British Silhouette Artists and their Work 1760-1860, 1978, p 383).

Gouache and pastel by Daniel Gardner exhibited Kenwood 1972 (30) without convincing authentication.

Oil by Nathaniel Hone in Rutgers University, New Brunswick. The apparent age and costume is right but the sitter has dark hair and brown eyes; Fanny Burney had fair hair and blue eyes.

Miniature said to be by John Bogle bears a close resemblance to Andrew Plimer's miniature of the Duchess of Devonshire, signed and dated 1786, in the Earl of Carlisle's collection (NPG Diary, III, i, frontispiece and Hemlow, The History of Fanny Burney, 1958, plate ii). Mr and Mrs John Bogle accompanied Fanny to the trial of Warren Hastings on 18 May 1790 but there is no record of a sitting, though Hemlow mentions a miniature completed 28 June 1783 (Hemlow, Journals, I, p 89, n. 25).

Miniature by Samuel Shelley exhibited Burlington Fine Arts Club 1889 (83) and Exhibition of the Royal House of Guelph, New Gallery, 1891 (1917) lent by J. L. Propert on both occasions, is unconvincing (NPG Diary, III, i, frontispiece).

Miniature by George Engleheart, reproduced Connoisseur, LXXXIII, 1929, p 376 is unconvincing.

This extended catalogue entry is from the out-of-print National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: Richard Walker, Regency Portraits, National Portrait Gallery, 1985, and is as published then. For the most up-to-date details on individual Collection works, we recommend reading the information provided in the Search the Collection results on this website in parallel with this text.